Aeon: Opposition to Galileo was scientific, not just religious.
“Science’s history matters. Anti-Copernicans such as Locher and Brahe show that science has always functioned as a contest of ideas, and that science was present in both sides of the vigorous debate over Earth’s motion.”
The Atlantic: The Economic Woe of Young Liberal-Arts Majors.
“In the labor market for young college grads, non-college jobs have proliferated faster than jobs that have historically required a college degree.” Yet, don’t eschew the liberal arts. As I found throughout my career, if you’re not going for a specific engineering degree, the liberal arts give you a leg up in just about any other field (philosophy majors on Wall Street ... architecture graduates creating Broadway sets ... etc. etc.).
Aeon Essays: The civic drama of Socrates trial.
You know, going back to read Socrates as an adult (after grade school glances), you realize that to be stuck conversing with Socrates must have been annoying as hell. He wanted you to reflect on your own beliefs, and live in accordance with the logic of one’s choices. There would be no going to church and holding pro-choice beliefs - you’d have to live your conviction, or change that conviction. Yet ... we need to discuss the ‘noble lie’ ... pertinent to today’s political landscape.
MeFi: Animated math.
BBC: DNA confirms cause of 1665 London’s Great Plague.
Let me guess. Yersinia pestis. Ain’t it always?
BillMoyers.com: What Would Joseph Campbell Say About Donald Trump?
“Unlike the hero who serves humanity, Trump is simultaneously serving his own self-destructive “dark side” while calling forth America’s dark side — bullies obsessed with money, power and materialistic success, absorbed with their own hubris and empire. Instead of trying to improve the system and make it better for all, he is trying to blow it up. The alternative he offers would be chaos.”
OpenCulture: What Ancient Latin Sounded Like, And How We Know It.
I’d like to see some mention about how it has been perpetuated as a living language in the Catholic church over this long time period, rather than ignoring that vector of input.
Pop Arch: Tree-rings reveal secret clocks that could reset key dates across the ancient world.
“In the past, we have had floating estimates of when things may have happened, but these secret clocks could reset chronologies concerning important world civilizations with the potential to date events that happened many thousands of years ago to the exact year.” Two radiation spikes at 775 and 994 CE, visible in all trees across the globe, will change dates on many major events in our history books. Huzzah!
Slate: Shadi Hamid on Islamic exceptionalism.
“Islamism is by definition illiberal, and they would promote things that are contrary to classical liberalism, in the sense of non-negotiable personal rights and freedoms, gender equality, protection of minorities.” Another information point, for those curious.
Eidolon: Re-Queering Sappho.
AtlasObscura: Rebel Virgins and Desert Mothers Written Out of Christianity’s Early History.
Yes, they’ve gotten short shrift. Mary Magdalene should have become head of the apostles, really, as first apostle of the resurrection (first person to see Christ after he had risen). The troubled Paul sealed in the male authoritarianism. This article’s a bit fluffy; see “The Closing of the Western Mind.” Highly recommended. I found it a page-turner.
The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago: Catalog of Publications.
Free ebooks. Well, PDFs. Or purchase dead tree copies. Always nice to give back to scholarly institutions ...
Archaeology News Network: Human burial found in the middle of sacrificial altar at Mt. Lykaion.
Human sacrifice? More digging to come.
ArtDaily: At ancient Syria site, IS discovers then destroys treasures.
“ When the Islamic State group captured Tal Ajaja, one of Syria’s most important Assyrian-era sites, they discovered previously unknown millennia-old statues and cuneiform tablets, and then they destroyed them.” AAAARRRRRRGGGHHHHHH.
Dazed (UK): Going to university is officially not worth it, says study.
Christie’s: Five minutes with Einstein’s leather jacket.
Hold your nose. Thanks, Tom E.
Duluth News-Tribune: Renowned Ojibwe author Jim Northrup remembered.
“In Vietnam, Bob Hope came to help us celebrate Christmas. I couldn’t figure out the link between peace on earth and a rice paddy fire fight. Today there is no tree inside my house. We just leave them outside where they continue to grow.” RIP. Your voice and thought will be missed. Of note: Ojibwe funeral traditions.
The New Yorker: How Rousseau Predicted Trump.
“He simply assumed that his own experience of social disadvantage and poverty — though he was rarely truly poor and had a knack for finding wealthy patrons—sufficed to make his arguments superior to those of people who lived more privileged lives.” Presaged might be a better term.
Guardian.UK: UT Tower shooting survivor speaks out against new campus carry law in Texas.
“There’s a lot of debating going on within university and faculty about what they can and cannot say regarding guns in classrooms and to me it’s just a shame that we’re even having these discussions. It’s just wrong to have guns be allowed in a classroom where you can’t have your cellphone or eat a hamburger.” It is ridiculous.
New Scientist: Mysterious dark brain cells linked to Alzheimer’s and stress.
“Studies in patients show that inflammation arising outside the brain is associated with more rapid decline in Alzheimer’s patients, and it’s important to unravel what role microglia might play in this acceleration of disease.” Oh please no.
Archaeology News Network: Facial reconstruction made of Bronze Age woman ‘Ava’.
The Atlantic: How Women Are Harassed Out of Science.
Zero tolerance for such harassment.
The Atlantic: Success in High School Doesn’t Mean Good Grades in College.
“Instead, the pair thinks that if high schools want to prepare students for college, they should focus less on specific content and more on critical thinking and reasoning.” I agree. My experience in AP classes revealed a great variation in curriculum compared to what was expected on the test; I felt ill-prepared when facing those questions. But my experience was umpteen decades ago.
The selection of ‘advanced’ students was even more wobbly, in my view. Such programs tend to look for students whose performance is improving beyond baseline; this is an inaccurate metric in isolation. Using myself as an example: I wanted to attend AP English. But I was bored, having already read through the assigned reading materials, so my performance was declining out of lack of mental stimulation. I didn’t make it. So I took an elective in “Journalism” instead.
Ultimately, on my first day in college, I was asked to write a paper. I’d already skimmed the table of contents of the assigned “English textbook”, so I gave them everything the book covered, and much more. Within minutes of arriving at my very second class in “college English”, the instructor marched me down to the Department head and she waived all English requirements for my degree, clearing me for anything I wanted to take, including electives.
Here’s the question: Would the AP course have made me any better? I wonder.
High school is not college. And I don’t think there’s any way to approximate the experience in a high school setting. It’s more than just the classes and curricula. You are challenged in multifarious ways, this often being the first time a child is truly ‘on their own’, eliciting different responses in different kids. So yes, critical thinking and reasoning.
SciAm: Human Brain Mapped in Unprecedented Detail.
Chronicle of Higher Ed: What Classics Professors Can Teach the Rest of Us.
Yet little seems to rub off. Today’s writers seemed mired in descriptive trivia that the writers of classics simply didn’t need in order to paint a lively tableau. Perhaps it is my age - I don’t need to have my imagination prompted. I suspect today’s Disney-raised need textual cartoons to paint their cerebellums.
I would not change my era or childhood for *anything*.
Case in point: “Adrenalized coots”, “hotheaded moorhens”, “sly-bones heron”, “susurrant reeds”? Fellow writers, can you not see the thesaurus being hauled out for those? You can feel the streeeeeetch. Words over feelings, emotions. Words that break the song of location.
From my journal this weekend by the South Fork of the Rio:
There is a peace - a zen space - in watching the dance of sedge-flies in the morning, arcing and lilting over the water. A glancing touch on the surface, a sudden swirl ... swift death by trout. Chipmunks dart through the boulders and dead wood searching for forgotten morsels. Red-shafted flickers spark their crimson underwings seeking an easy insect breakfast buffet in the beetle-ridden deadwood. You can hear the river at work. Dull bass booms as the rocks shift. Curious, that flora and fauna manage to manifest such joy and happiness in the face of daily mortal danger, yet we humans seem to always be bored, testy and unsatisfied. An eddy in the river ... suds. Sticks to the rocks like plaque to teeth. Who would be so inconsiderate? Mother Nature has much to teach us, if we still have the capacity to listen. If we don’t murder her first.
I like those, but do not consider them finished thoughts; even that feels ‘not spare enough’.